Loss Mitigation Outsourcing is Officially "Hot"
The number of firms competing for business in the burgeoning loss mitigation space is becoming staggeringly large, as service providers have flooded into a portion of the market that until very recently was largely left to its own devices. The latest entrant into this crowded space is Houston-based Integrated Mortgage Solutions, which said Wednesday that it had launched a newly-minted Asset Disposition and Management Services division; the firm has taken to calling its loss mitigation division ADAM, for short. ADAM will continue IMS' existing loss mitigation services such as skip tracing, door-knocker, inspections and preservation, the company said in a statement, as well including the company's borrower outreach call center and short sale service. IMS CEO Cheryl Lang stressed that the company's call center is geared towards meeting the requirements of the new Streamlined Loan Modification Program, announced last month by the U.S. Treasury Department; both Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) have instructed their servicers to freeze foreclosures and evictions until early next year, to provide needed time to implement the program. Loss mitigation outsourcing had been a popular growth strategy for service providers before the streamlined program was announced on Nov. 11; after the announcement, however, servicing managers that spoke with HousingWire have said they've literally been inundated with firms looking to secure business in managing their mass loan modification efforts. "[Mass loan modifications] are new business process for most servicers, and most are probably going to end up outsourcing a good portion of the work, at least initially," said one executive at a top five servicer, who asked not to be identified in this story. "Which means nearly any firm that has reach in the default space is looking to secure some additional business. It's a bit overwhelming, to tell the truth. It's like everyone is doing it." The list of firms touting loss mitigation solutions includes the traditional title-related giants, including the First American Corp. (FAF), which said on Aug. 1 that a subsidiary had developed what it called a “single, complete loan modification cycle solution” for servicers. The company's solution includes credit scoring, valuation services, risk modeling, scoring, document preparation and document recording to identify borrowers who are most at-risk of foreclosure. Based on this information, borrower refinance and workout options are presented and documents required to complete the loan modification process may be efficiently created and recorded. On Nov. 19, Lender Processing Services, Inc. (LPS) said it had rolled out its own loss mitigation outsourcing platform, called RediMod. LPS' platform focuses on enabling mass loan modifications by automating loan eligibility and best-fit determinations for modification programs, and then combining loan-level and portfolio analytics with customizable customer contact strategies tailored to meet a servicer’s specific requirements. Even REO specialists are looking for opportunity in the loss mitigation space, with REO tech provider REOTrans -- whose platform acts as a clearinghouse for property management and REO vendors -- announcing on Sept. 3 that it would begin offering lenders a new module that would help calculate short-payoff amounts for lenders looking to get a better read on their short sales. The reason for the free-for-all in loss mitigation isn't hard to dechiper. "Loss mitigation was a pretty simple task the past 5 to 7 years," said one loss mitigation manager that spoke with HousingWire, on condition of anonymity. "Now, we're being faced with assessing market risk and attempting to manage a more complex set of borrower options along with a more complex set of underwriting standards." That manager said the most difficult aspect of the new solutions coming online that is that it's often difficult to discern any difference between them. "Everything here is so new, nobody's proven themselves as adept at any one thing or the whole process," she said. "Everyone is claiming the same thing, whether they're offering an end-to-end solution or a plug-and-play part of the puzzle, so we sort of have to make up our decision criteria as we go." Write to Paul Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.